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LGBT Activists Rally As Fairness Bill Languishes In Committee

Josh James

LGBT rights groups filled the Capitol Rotunda Wednesday to call on lawmakers to pass statewide fairness legislation.

Waving a rainbow American flag at the rally was Bowling Green Fairness Campaign supporter Claudia Hanes. She said the 15-minute discussion-only committee hearing given to a House anti-discrimination bill earlier that afternoon showed the General Assembly is behind the times.

"We've come so far with our recognition of religion and faith and gender, so to just simply box this off as not relevant... that's what it feels like," she said.

One group happy to see the legislature taking its time is The Family Foundation, whose executive director, Kent Ostrander, argues adding "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the state's civil rights protections will result in more anti-religious discrimination.

"Court cases pop up. We're looking at in Kentucky the Kim Davis situation, if you think about it, and also Hands On Originals," Ostrander says. "There's no reason to pit these two liberties against one another and yet it oftentimes happens."

Despite years of campaigning, statewide fairness legislation has yet to be heard or voted on in committee or the full House. Bill sponsor Rep. Mary Lou Marzian says she expects it take another 2-3 years before the legislation has any chance of moving.

"As long as people feel like they're taking a political hit to vote for fairness, it's going to be difficult. But I think we're moving forward," she told the media. "I think we're getting more and more sponsors. And millennials, young people, have no problem with this whether they're Republicans or Democrats."

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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